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March 10, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Earth – The Bees Made Honey in the Lions Skull

Quick history lesson: A man called Dylan Carlson created Earth in1990, which was named after the original incarnation of Black Sabbath. Earth took the pioneering heaviness of Sabbath to its absolute extreme and more or less invented the drone genre with their first release The Extra Capsular Extraction EP, which featured Carlson’s late friend, and Nirvana vocalist, Kurt Cobain. Earth’s first full length album Earth 2 (Subpop, 1993), is the quintessential drone album: its three tracks of super slow, bass-heavy guitar loops and feedback span an hour and thirteen minutes of transcendence, boredom, or pain, depending on your stomach for “the drone”. Earth 2 laid the foundation for the likes of Boris, Sunn O))), Hutt valley’s own Birchville Cat Motel and nearly every other drone or noise project worldwide. After a quiet spell in the late nineties, Earth returned after the turn of the millennia sporting a shiny new distortion-free sound with Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method (2005).

The Bees Made Honey in the Lions Skull sees Dylan Carlson and co. build on the pioneering country-fied, southern-fried drone of Hex. Slow and heavy is still the name of the game for Earth, and clean, hypnotic guitars make their third straight appearance as the father of drone delves deeper into the lush expansiveness of last year’s Hibernaculum EP/DVD; eschewing the more desolate twang of Hex.

Earth take a slightly more structured approach, and up the dynamics on The Bees; keys, Hammond organ, upright bass and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell all make appearances. This is still sombre, hypnotic (key word for this review) music, but the added company sees Carlson add a dash of psychedelia as ‘Omens and Portents I’ kicks things off with a stuttering riff that still stays true to the Earth modus operandi of slow and low. Earth, however, save the best for last with the fantastic guitar interplay on ‘Hung from the Moon’, and the melancholy of the title track nailing home another resounding success for the band. The art and packaging is top notch, which one has come to expect from Southern Lord, and at $25 at Real Groovy, this comes highly recommended for anyone looking for something a little bit different.

Rating: 9/10


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